"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Sights and Sounds of 2019 March for Life

Just wanted to share some pictures and movie clips I took at the 2019 March for Life this past Friday, the 18th.  It was a real long day.  I left my house at 6 AM to meet to meet at a local church.  A quick early morning Mass at 6:30 and we were on the bus and off by 7:15.  The bus pulled into RFK stadium parking lot around 12:30.  A bathroom break, a walk to the Metro station, a subway ride to the Mall, and we joined the March by one thirty.  We were not there for the speeches.  We would have to leave the night before to make that.

Here’s a small part of my group trying to gather together before we enter the March.  You want to try to keep the group together so it’s easier to regroup to get back, but really that’s a near impossible effort.  Just casually walking I found myself split away.  As you can see, there was a dusting of snow from overnight.



Our group must have been somewhere in the middle of the procession.  Here’s a picture ahead of us.




Hard to get a picture of the breath and scope of the crowd, but here’s one that shows the width.



Here’s some movie clips.  The college kids were the most vocal, so I made my way into their group to capture these clips.  I think they were from Illinois.









The High School kids were more reserved.  Here’s a group being led in a rosary prayer.




Since I’ve been going it has been a predominantly Catholic gathering and this year seemed more so than usual.  I usually see more Protestant denominations but this year I only caught a couple of Lutheran signs and a Focus on the Family sign, which I assume is Evangelical.  Of course this could just be my perception being limited to a particular section of the procession.
But the signs were great.  Here’s a few that caught my attention.








There were little musical groups along the way.  I was able to film this Pipes and Drums band.




When we got up on Capitol Hill, I could turn around and see how far back the procession went.  Here are a couple of pictures.






That goes pretty far back, and we were in the middle, so similar up ahead.  I don’t know how to estimate crowds, but that is a lot of people.

Finally I want to end with this picture.  This was a group of about a dozen, and at first I thought this was the flag of the Red Cross.  Silly me, I then realized it was the Swiss flag.




I asked a woman who was part of the group if they had come all the way from Switzerland for this, and she responded she had.  And then she said something I will never forget, and later upon reflect it brought a tear to my eye.  She said with a smile in her Germanic accent, “You are an inspiration to us.”  By “you” I took it she meant the pro-life movement in America.  I realized then how across the western world, abortion is the norm and whatever pro-life movements there may be are truly small and defanged.  We are what stand in the way from the barbarity of the innocent slaughter.  To quote Ronald Reagan, “This is the last stand on Earth.”

Back in the bus and on the way home by five.




Home around 11 PM.  A tiring seventeen hour day.  God bless all those hearty souls.  God protect the unborn.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) by Scott Hahn, Part 1

Leading into to Christmas, the Catholic Thought Book Club selected and read Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does) by Scott Hahn.  It proved to be a wonderful selection as a Christmas read.  I’m going to post a series derived from my summaries and comments from the discussion.



If by any chance you don’t know who Scott Hahn is, you can read about him here.  He is probably the most important Catholic convert from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism in the last fifty to a hundred years.  He started out as a Presbyterian minister and PhD theologian but as he explored the roots of Christianity was shocked to find the truth in Roman Catholicism, both from a historical point of view and a Biblical point of view.  His conversion story went viral through recordings of his speeches, his conversion story, Rome, Sweet Rome, and finally through the internet.  Do a YouTube search of Scott Hahn and you will find his conversion story.  From his conversion story, a slew of Protestants have followed suit, including many Protestant clergy.  You can find him on many theological discussions on EWTN and he teaches at Franciscan University of Steubenville.  He has gone on to write many books on the faith.  He has a remarkable ability to find eye opening theological insights, in many ways like Pope Benedict XVI, but still be able to communicate them to the laity.  Joy to the World is a great place to start with a Scott Hahn book.


Summary

Chapter 1: “A Light Goes On In Bethlehem”
Using his daughter’s love of children, Hahn locates the Christmas story as wrapped in the human institution of the family.

Chapter 2: “What Happens in Bethlehem…”
Hahn provides the justification that the Gospel’s recounting of Jesus’ birth is history and not fable or folklore.

Chapter 3: “A New Genesis”
Hahn distinguishes the different objectives between Matthew’s and Luke’s Gospels, especially considering the differences in genealogies. 

Chapter 4: “The Counterfeit Kingdom”
Hahn details the expectations at the time of the imminent coming of the Messiah. 

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How unexpected to start the Christmas story with Hahn’s twelve year old daughter, having a baby placed in her arms.

Yet that young woman, long centuries ago, found fulfillment in Bethlehem—in a baby placed in her arms. Everyone who saw her remembered her radiance, and after two thousand years we still remember it.

Looking at Hannah as she looked at those babies, I could understand why.

The effect on Hannah was long-lasting. She was changed—visibly changed and inwardly transformed. You could see it in her face and in her deeds. Months later, she organized a fund-raiser to send clothes to “her orphans” in Bethlehem. She had undergone a spiritual awakening, but still more than that. It was a kind of maternal awakening—a coming of age—a transition from being a little kid to caring for little kids.

I’m just curious.  Since we have so many women in this book club, do any of you remember the first time an infant was placed in your arms and did it have some maternal effect on you?

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Great comments all. Nadine, I may have once known about the genealogy differences but I had long forgotten what the differences were.

And Scott Hahn is very big on the family dimension of Christianity. It did not surprise me that he would expand on it here,

As to the Holy Family, I keep a small medal of the Holy Family on my neck chain, along with a crucifix and another of St. Catherine of Siena, who I consider my patron saint. But the Holy Family is special to me. My wife and I adopted our only child, a son, late in life. So we are father, mother, son, a mirror of the Holy Family.

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Hahn finds it important—and rightly so—to emphasize in chapter two that the events narrated in the Gospels are true fact, historical fact, not some fable or folklore.

Though the Gospel is certainly rich in allegorical meaning, it is first of all history. If there is allegory in the infancy narratives, it is fashioned by God, and not simply with words, but rather with creation itself—with the very deeds of sacred history. God writes the world the way human authors write words. Spiritual truths are everywhere to be found in the events at the beginning of the Gospels, but the events are nonetheless real and nonetheless important. They are no less historical for being extraordinary. To invoke Pope Benedict again: “If God does not also have power over matter, then he simply is not God. But he does have this power.”6 And so he can (and has) guided history and creation, just as he guided the prophets, to tell his story.  (p. 20)

If these events are only fable, then it is meaningless.  That sort of skepticism is what has caused western culture to lose faith in God.  What separates Christianity from any religion that I can think of is the incarnation of God into man for the salvation of mankind. 

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In chapter three I think Hahn makes what might be the most important point of the book.  Hahn points out that through the genealogy, St. Matthew is joining with St. John in the fourth Gospel that Christ’s arrival is a reformulation of genesis.

Saint Matthew’s first readers knew nothing of the field of genetics, but the title spoke still more loudly to them. To those first readers, the evangelist was suggesting a new Genesis, an account of the new creation brought about by Jesus Christ. In the fourth Gospel, Saint John accomplishes something similar when he begins by echoing the first words of the Torah: “In the beginning” (John 1:1; see Genesis 1:1). Saint Matthew introduces the same theme, though in a different way. The message in both is clear: with the arrival of Jesus, God brings about a new beginning, a new creation, a new Torah, and a New Testament. (p.24)


Christ’s birth is monumental.  It is the incarnational entrance of God into world, the one and only time in human history.  And with Christ’s entrance, the world is renewed.  The fall from Eden will be reversed. That is the reason for our joy, which is reflected in the book’s title.  That is why we celebrate Christmas.   

Sunday, January 13, 2019

My 2018 Reads

Typically I have an initial post at the beginning of the year on the upcoming plans for the year, and then I post an update at the end of each quarter with the fourth quarter being the conclusion of the year’s reads.  This year I had that initial post in January and a first quarter update, and then I abandoned my poor blog readers without an update the rest of the year.  I apologize, and if you thought I had given up on reading, you were mistaken.  Anyway, you can tell by my posts throughout the year I was certainly reading.  Here is the final quarter’s update which summarizes my reads for 2018.  First a listing of what I read by quarter, and then I’ll break it down in a summary.


Completed First Quarter:

From Islam to Christ: One Woman’s Path through the Riddles of God, a confessional memoir by Derya Little.
The Inferno, 1st part of the epic poem, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated and annotated by Robert and Jean Hollander.
The Inferno, 1st part of the epic poem, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated and annotated by Anthony Esloen.
"Behind the Veil," a short story by Dhu'l Nun Ayyoub, translated by S. Al-Bazzazz. 
The Way of the Cross, a non-fiction devotional by Caryll Houselander.
A Man Could Stand Up, the 3rd novel of the Parade’s End Tetralogy by Ford Madox Ford.
The Magician’s Nephew, a novel from the The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis.
“The Call of the Cthulhu,” a short story by H. P. Lovecraft.
“Hard Times,” a short story by Ron Rash.


 Completed Second Quarter:

“The Dead,” a short story by James Joyce.
“Arrangement in Black and White,” a short story by Dorothy Parker.
Humanae Vitae, a Papal Encyclical by Pope Paul VI.
The Book of Isaiah, a book of the Old Testament, KJV translation.
The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, a non-fiction work of theology by Robert Cardinal Sarah.
  

Completed Third Quarter:

The Everlasting Man, a non-fiction book of Christian apologetics by G. K. Chesterton.
 “Flowering Judas,” a short story by Katherine Ann Porter. 
Purgatorio, 2nd part of the epic poem, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated and annotated by Robert and Jean Hollander.
Purgatorio, 2nd part of the epic poem, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated and annotated by Anthony Esolen.


Completed Fourth Quarter:

“Letter to the Corinthians,” a papal epistle from Pope Clement I.
The Book of Isaiah, a book of the Old Testament, RSV (Catholic Edition) Translations.
Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics, a non-fiction book by Daniel Ali and Robert Spencer.
Confessions of a Convert, a non-fiction memoir by Robert Hugh Benson.
Not All of Me is Dust, a novel by Frances Maureen Richardson.
Blood Pressure Down: The-10 Step to Lower Your Blood Pressure in 10 Weeks—Without Prescription Drugs, a self-help, non-fiction book by Dr. Janet Bond Brill. 
The Gospel of Luke, a book of the New Testament, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a novel from the The Chronicles of Narnia series by C. S. Lewis.
The Letter to the Hebrews, an epistle in the New Testament attributed to St. Paul, KJV and RSV (Ignatius) translations.
Joy to the World: How Christ's Coming Changed Everything (and Still Does), a non-fiction work on Christian theology by Scott Hahn.
Vol 4 of Les Misérables, “Saint-Denis, the Idyll in the Rue Plumet, and the Epic in the Rue Saint-Denis” a novel by Victor Hugo.


Currently Reading:

Julius Caesar: Life of a Colossus, a biography by Adrian Goldsworthy.
The Virgin and the Gipsy, a short novel by D. H. Lawrence.
Hildegard of Bingen: Selected Writings, a collection translated and edited by Mark Atherton.
Fra Angelico (Metropolitan Museum of Art Series), a non-fiction work on art by Laurence Kanter, Pia Palladino, and others.
The Life of Saint Dominic, a biography by Augusta Theodosia Drane.
The Fathers of the Church: An Introduction to the First Christian Teachers, 3rd Edition, a non-fiction work by Mike Aquilina.



As you can see, being the moderator of the Catholic Thought Book Club at Goodreads shapes my reading list.  I would say that more than half—perhaps three quarters—is determined by the book club selection, and since I’m moderator I can’t really opt out of a read.  The readings break down in the following manner.  Nine works of fiction, eight works of non-fiction, only six short stories, five books from the Bible, and two papal documents.  Let’s take the categories individually. 

In the nine works of fiction, I include two individual canticles of Dante’s Divine Comedy separately.  It is a poetic epic, but I count it as fiction because it is narrative in nature, and I count the canticles (Inferno and Purgatorio) as separate works.  Each are book length.  Also I count the two different translations (Hollander and Hollander and Esolen) separately since I read them both.  In all four of the nine works stemmed from Dante.  As you may know I’ve been reading Ford Madox Ford’s tetralogy of novels set during World War I collected under the title Parade’s End.  This year I read the third of the four, A Man Could Stand Up.  One more to go.  In that vein, the last few years I’ve been reading the over 1200 page epic Les Misérables by Victor Hugo.  Because of its length I’ve been reading annually one of the five volumes and counting each as a novel.  This year I read the fourth volume, “Saint-Denis, the Idyll in the Rue Plumet, and the Epic in the Rue Saint-Denis.”  One more year to go on this too.  I’ve been reading C. S. Lewis The Chronicles of Narnia series with my son.  This year we read the first two, The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.  They are delightful and frankly not just for children.  Finally, I read Not All of Me is Dust, a novel written by an incredibly nice woman I met in my Catholic Thought Book Club at Goodreads, Frances Maureen Richardson.  I would classify this as a Catholic novel since the faith of the characters is at the center of each of their lives, but it is way more than that.  It’s a journey through the second half of the 20th century with its declining faith and one person whose example stands against it.  I haven’t posted on this novel here yet, but I intend to do so.

Seven of the eight non-fiction works have a theological element to them.  Two of the books I would classify as confessional memoirs.  They are autobiographic and focus on a particular element of their lives.  Both books were religious conversion stories.  Derya Little’s From Islam to Christ tells of her conversion from growing up with Islam in Turkey and becoming Roman Catholic.  Robert Hugh Benson’s Confessions of a Convert also speaks of a conversion to Roman Catholicism, he being an Anglican priest and son of an Anglican Archbishop at the turn of the end of the 19th century.  Both took the reader through their theological reasoning and personal emotions.  Four of the non-fiction books were theological discourses.  Robert Cardinal Sarah’s The Power of Silence discussed the need for silence as a means to communicate and understand God.  G. K. Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man identified the importance of man and Christ in the shaping of human and salvation history.  In Inside Islam: A Guide for Catholics, Daniel Ali—also a convert to Catholicism—provided a handbook of the differences between the two religions.  Scott Hahn’s Joy to the World provided a wonderful exegesis to the Christmas narrative.  The final non-fiction was a self-help book by Dr. Janet Bond Brill, Blood Pressure Down on how to lower one’s blood pressure, as the title states.  It’s becoming an issue for me.

I only read five short stories this past year as opposed to my usual twenty-four.  Actually last year I only read eighteen, so my trend is toward fewer short stories.  That’s a shame because I get so much diversity from reading so many different writers.  I need to try to do better on that.  With only six, I won’t go through a whole lot on what I thought of them.  I’ll just rate them as exceptional, good, ordinary, and duds.  “Behind the Veil” by Iraqi writer Dhu’l Nun Ayyoub, was ordinary.  “The Call of the Cthulhu” by H. P. Lovecraft was also ordinary.  “Hard Times” by Ron Rash was good.  “The Dead” by James Joyce was exceptional.  “Arrangement in Black and White” by Dorothy Parker was a dud.  “Flowering Judas” by Katherine Ann Parker was good.  So the winner of the best of the short stories read this year is James Joyce’s “The Dead,” a classic and one of the best works Joyce wrote.

I read five books out of the Bible this year.  I am counting The Book of Isaiah and The Letter to the Hebrews twice each because of two different translations.  As those who have read my blog may know, I am trying to read through the Bible both in King James Translation (to get a feel for the English language of the time) and a contemporary Catholic translation (to get the most comprehension of the work).  The fifth work from the Bible read this year was The Gospel of Luke and since I had read this before I only read it in RSV translation.  We are in the C lectionary year for readings at Mass, which means the predominant Gospel readings will come from Luke.  So the book club read the entire Gospel up front as a way to prepare us for this year’s readings.  We did this last year with the Gospel of Mark.

The book club also read two papal documents.  We read Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical which had reached its fifty year anniversary, from Pope Paul VI.  The book club also read the Letter to the Corinthians by church father Pope Clement I.  Pope Clement I was the fourth Bishop of Rome and held office from 88 to 99 AD.  

On the list of currently reading but unfinished are three reads from the past I have not gone back to this year: Goldworthy’s Julius Caesar, Lawrence’s The Virgin and the Gypsy, and the selected writings of Hildgard of Bingen.  The art book on Fra Angelico’s work and the biography of St. Dominic were added this year, and every so often I will read a few pages.  Also added was Mike Aquilina’s The Fathers of the Church, which is a survey book of good portion of the church fathers.  This is a book we’re reading at my parish Bible study this year.

As you can see, almost everything I read these days is related to Catholicism in some way. 


Friday, January 11, 2019

The Gospel of Luke: Comments and Observations, Part III

This is my final post on this read of Luke’s Gospel.  The previous two posts can be found here and here

On this post I turn my attention to chapter ten and break it down in detail.

I think chapter ten in Luke is another remarkable chapter.  It starts off with Christ sending off seventy (or seventy-two in some versions) disciples to preach and convert.  Let's look at His send off in more detail.

1 After this the Lord appointed seventy [-two] others whom he sent ahead of him in pairs to every town and place he intended to visit. 2 He said to them, "The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send out laborers for his harvest. 3 Go on your way; behold, I am sending you like lambs among wolves. 4 Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.

Why is He sending them like lambs to wolves?  Why no money or sack or sandals?  I guess it builds a trust in the Lord.  But why "greet no one along the way?"  That I find puzzling, especially since further down they are to go into houses of people.

5 Into whatever house you enter, first say, 'Peace to this household.' 6 If a peaceful person lives there, your peace will rest on him; but if not, it will return to you. 7 Stay in the same house and eat and drink what is offered to you, for the laborer deserves his payment. Do not move about from one house to another.

Obviously the disciples are very active in this ministry, apparently working as well as preaching.  The word "peace" here carries more than the definition allows.  It carries a spiritual connectation, like a blessing.  [Side note: I love signing off notes with "peace."  It's almost like I'm blessing the person I'm writing to.  But I never thought about that peace returning to me if it doesn't settle on that person.]

And then Jesus comes to what I think is significant:

8 Whatever town you enter and they welcome you, eat what is set before you, 9 cure the sick in it and say to them, 'The kingdom of God is at hand for you.'

So the ministry is to work to help the community, preach, and cure the sick.  This is bringing "The Kingdom of God" here to Earth.  Luke more than any of the other Gospels seems to be concerned with the Kingdom of God on Earth.  Look at all the references: Luke 4:43, Luke 6:20, Luke 9:62, Luke 13:18-19, Luke 13:28, Luke 14:15, Luke 17:21, Luke 18:17, Luke 18:24-25, Luke 19:11, Luke 21:31.  Yes, the kingdom is also in heaven, but 17:20-21 makes clear:

20 Asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he said in reply, "The coming of the kingdom of God cannot be observed, 21 and no one will announce, 'Look, here it is,' or, 'There it is.' For behold, the kingdom of God is among you."

Yes, there is a metaphysical element to it, but our work here on Earth is bringing the kingdom of God to fruition.  Now back to chapter ten, Jesus gets perturbed with the unrepentant.

10 Whatever town you enter and they do not receive you, go out into the streets and say, 11 'The dust of your town that clings to our feet, even that we shake off against you.' Yet know this: the kingdom of God is at hand.

The next passage in the chapter (verses 13-16) Jesus continues on the unrepentant motif, but the passage after that the disciples come back with joy.

17 The seventy [-two] returned rejoicing, and said, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us because of your name." 18 Jesus said, "I have observed Satan fall like lightning from the sky. 19 Behold, I have given you the power 'to tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

Their success is like casting Satan out of heaven.  Their success in bringing the kingdom of heaven to Earth brings them to heaven.  The next passage Jesus rejoices,

21 At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and Earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.

And further:

23 Turning to the disciples in private he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. 24 For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

The disciples have seen the Kingdom by working to bring it to Earth, and they have been blessed for it.  And then Jesus recounts to a lawyer the Parable of the Good Samaritan, which I don't need to quote.  It is a dramatization of what the Kingdom of God should look like on Earth.  It is the neighbor working to help the other, showing mercy to all.  And Jesus concludes that with "Go and do likewise."  Go and do likewise is a commandment to actively create the kingdom of God here on Earth.  This Protestant notion of "by faith alone" is nowhere substantiated in the Gospels.

And then Luke completely blows me away by concluding chapter ten with Jesus' visit to Mary and Martha, the famous dichotomy between the active and contemplative life.  Notice that Jesus enters a house just like he had his disciples enter at the beginning of the chapter.  Martha is caught up with serving the guests and complains that Mary is a slacker because she just sits listening to Jesus.  And Jesus seems to be rebuking Martha while upholding Mary.  So after this entire chapter of raising the active work of bringing the Kingdom to Earth, does Luke undermine his own argument with the opposite theme? 

Meister Eckhart, the great German, Dominican mystic, had a different take on this scene.  Remember Dominicans have the calling to be both active and contemplative, breathing with two lungs.  Eckhart believed that Jesus wasn't so much praising Mary, but acknowledging her limitations.  This was the best that Mary could do.  But Martha has the ability to do both.  Eckhart's reading seems like a bit of a stretch, and it's not one you will typically get in a homily.  But look carefully.  Christ is not rebuking Martha for being active.  He is rebuking her for being anxious and upset.  Martha is not at peace.  She doesn't have the "peace" that is mentioned earlier in the chapter, that the disciples are supposed to cast on those they minister. 


I don’t know if I’d make a good theologian—I only play one on the internet—but I think this was one of my better readings.  Feel free to disagree.  :)


Monday, January 7, 2019

Matthew Monday: Choir During Christmas Season, 2018

As you know, Matthew has been in the choir for a year and a half now, and the music director loves him and relies on him almost every week.  I was able to record this little clip of Matthew leading the Responsorial Psalm the Sunday just before Christmas, the last Sunday of Advent.




Well, just like last year Matthew played the drum part for the Children’s Choir’s rendition of “Little Drummer Boy” on Christmas Eve.  He was very good.  I’ll share the video.




He’s getting to be very comfortable as a performer.  He’s such a ham.  Here’s a really nice picture of him in his choir robe. 



And the church was nicely decorated as usual.  Here are a couple of pictures.






I hope you all had a blessed Christmas.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Lines I Wished I’d Written: Eponine Dies, from Les Misérables

One of the truly sad characters of Victor Hugo’s great novel is Eponine, the discarded daughter of the Thénardiers.  Malnourished, dirty, and missing teeth, she is not attractive in the least but still has a girl’s loving heart and that love is set on Marius, albeit he is unaware.  Though she loves him, still she helps him connect with the girl he loves, Cosette.  When the battle at the barricades first starts up, a soldier takes aim at Marius while he is unaware, but someone deflects the bullet intended for him.  Later that evening he comes across the injured Eponine who he learns is the person who saved his life.  This is from Volume 4, “Marius,” Book Fourteen, Chapter VI, “The Agony of Death after the Agony of Life.”

As Marius was withdrawing, after concluding his inspection, he heard his name pronounced feebly in the darkness.

"Monsieur Marius!"

He started, for he recognized the voice which had called to him two hours before through the gate in the Rue Plumet.

Only, the voice now seemed to be nothing more than a breath.

He looked about him, but saw no one.

Marius thought he had been mistaken, that it was an illusion added by his mind to the extraordinary realities which were clashing around him. He advanced a step, in order to quit the distant recess where the barricade lay.

"Monsieur Marius!" repeated the voice.

This time he could not doubt that he had heard it distinctly; he looked and saw nothing.

"At your feet," said the voice.

He bent down, and saw in the darkness a form which was dragging itself towards him.

It was crawling along the pavement. It was this that had spoken to him.

The fire-pot allowed him to distinguish a blouse, torn trousers of coarse velvet, bare feet, and something which resembled a pool of blood. Marius indistinctly made out a pale head which was lifted towards him and which was saying to him:--

"You do not recognize me?"

"No."

"Eponine."

Marius bent hastily down. It was, in fact, that unhappy child. She was dressed in men's clothes.

"How come you here? What are you doing here?"

"I am dying," said she.

There are words and incidents which arouse dejected beings. Marius cried out with a start:--

"You are wounded! Wait, I will carry you into the room! They will attend to you there. Is it serious? How must I take hold of you in order not to hurt you? Where do you suffer? Help! My God! But why did you come hither?"

And he tried to pass his arm under her, in order to raise her.

She uttered a feeble cry.

"Have I hurt you?" asked Marius.

"A little."

"But I only touched your hand."

She raised her hand to Marius, and in the middle of that hand Marius saw a black hole.

"What is the matter with your hand?" said he.

"It is pierced."

"Pierced?"

"Yes."

"What with?"

"A bullet."

"How?"

"Did you see a gun aimed at you?"

"Yes, and a hand stopping it."

"It was mine."

Marius was seized with a shudder.

"What madness! Poor child! But so much the better, if that is all, it is nothing, let me carry you to a bed. They will dress your wound; one does not die of a pierced hand."

She murmured:--

"The bullet traversed my hand, but it came out through my back. It is useless to remove me from this spot. I will tell you how you can care for me better than any surgeon. Sit down near me on this stone."

He obeyed; she laid her head on Marius' knees, and, without looking at him, she said:--

"Oh! How good this is! How comfortable this is! There; I no longer suffer."

She remained silent for a moment, then she turned her face with an effort, and looked at Marius.

"Do you know what, Monsieur Marius? It puzzled me because you entered that garden; it was stupid, because it was I who showed you that house; and then, I ought to have said to myself that a young man like you--"

She paused, and overstepping the sombre transitions that undoubtedly existed in her mind, she resumed with a heartrending smile:--

"You thought me ugly, didn't you?"

She continued:--

"You see, you are lost! Now, no one can get out of the barricade. It was I who led you here, by the way! You are going to die, I count upon that. And yet, when I saw them taking aim at you, I put my hand on the muzzle of the gun. How queer it is! But it was because I wanted to die before you. When I received that bullet, I dragged myself here, no one saw me, no one picked me up, I was waiting for you, I said: `So he is not coming!' Oh, if you only knew. I bit my blouse, I suffered so! Now I am well. Do you remember the day I entered your chamber and when I looked at myself in your mirror, and the day when I came to you on the boulevard near the washerwomen? How the birds sang! That was a long time ago. You gave me a hundred sous, and I said to you: `I don't want your money.' I hope you picked up your coin? You are not rich. I did not think to tell you to pick it up. The sun was shining bright, and it was not cold. Do you remember, Monsieur Marius? Oh! How happy I am! Every one is going to die."

She had a mad, grave, and heart-breaking air. Her torn blouse disclosed her bare throat.

As she talked, she pressed her pierced hand to her breast, where there was another hole, and whence there spurted from moment to moment a stream of blood, like a jet of wine from an open bung-hole.

Marius gazed at this unfortunate creature with profound compassion.

"Oh!" she resumed, "it is coming again, I am stifling!"

She caught up her blouse and bit it, and her limbs stiffened on the pavement.

At that moment the young cock's crow executed by little Gavroche resounded through the barricade.

The child had mounted a table to load his gun, and was singing gayly the song then so popular:--

"En voyant Lafayette, "On beholding Lafayette,
 Le gendarme repete:--             The gendarme repeats:--
 Sauvons nous! sauvons nous!       Let us flee! let us flee!
       sauvons nous!"                     let us flee!
Eponine raised herself and listened; then she murmured:--

"It is he."

And turning to Marius:--

"My brother is here. He must not see me. He would scold me."

"Your brother?" inquired Marius, who was meditating in the most bitter and sorrowful depths of his heart on the duties to the Thenardiers which his father had bequeathed to him; "who is your brother?"

"That little fellow."

"The one who is singing?"

"Yes."

Marius made a movement.

"Oh! don't go away," said she, "it will not be long now."

She was sitting almost upright, but her voice was very low and broken by hiccoughs.

At intervals, the death rattle interrupted her. She put her face as near that of Marius as possible. She added with a strange expression:--

"Listen, I do not wish to play you a trick. I have a letter in my pocket for you. I was told to put it in the post. I kept it. I did not want to have it reach you. But perhaps you will be angry with me for it when we meet again presently? Take your letter."

She grasped Marius' hand convulsively with her pierced hand, but she no longer seemed to feel her sufferings. She put Marius' hand in the pocket of her blouse. There, in fact, Marius felt a paper.

"Take it," said she.

Marius took the letter.

She made a sign of satisfaction and contentment.

"Now, for my trouble, promise me--"

And she stopped.

"What?" asked Marius.

"Promise me!"

"I promise."

"Promise to give me a kiss on my brow when I am dead.--I shall feel it."

She dropped her head again on Marius' knees, and her eyelids closed. He thought the poor soul had departed. Eponine remained motionless. All at once, at the very moment when Marius fancied her asleep forever, she slowly opened her eyes in which appeared the sombre profundity of death, and said to him in a tone whose sweetness seemed already to proceed from another world:--

"And by the way, Monsieur Marius, I believe that I was a little bit in love with you."

She tried to smile once more and expired.

Excerpt taken from The Literature Network.  


Perhaps a bit sappy and melodramatic, but still a nice touch.  This novel has so many nice touches.  Here’s the song (“Little Fall of Rain”) from the musical.  It’s not quite like the scene in the novel but I guess it captures it.